Born on the year 1941 during the 13th of September in Osaka, Japan, Tadao Ando grew up in the city of Osaka as he watched his country recovering from the war. He was raised in the care of his grandmother who had “ando” as a name. During his younger years, he worked as a carpenter and in turn led him to gain knowledge about wood and even resulted to his creations of airplane and ship models. He mentioned that when he was about the age of 18, he studied architecture by actually going to buildings and experiencing them. Tadao Ando bought a book about Le Corbusier’s sketches and was inspired by the ideas of the man.
Between 1962 and 1969, Tadao Ando made visits to Europe, Africa and the United States. This was the time that he started to formulate his personal ideas about architectural design. He formed his own architectural firm named Tadao Ando Architectural & Associates in his hometown of Osaka by the year 1969.
HIS WORKS & MASTERPIECES
The body of work of Tadao Ando has been notorious for the imaginative and constructive utilization of natural light. Following the natural forms of the landscape, he is also known for this architectural conceptualizations.
Materiality is the initial impression of Tadao Ando’s architecture. The powerful and large walls of his works set a boundary. Tactility is the second impression of Ando’s works. Admitting light, soft to touch, expressing stillness, these are what his walls seems to impose on a person who sees or experiences his works. Emptiness is the third impression for the visitors of his buildings due to the light space of the building’s surroundings.
His first realization was made in Osaka during the year 1975. It was a Row House. Having a simple block building that was inserted into a street that has a narrow row of houses, this place could be easily recognizable due to the blankness of the concrete facade stressed by just a single doorway.
Tadao Ando’s second realization was the Koshino House that was done in two separate phases, first was during 1980 to 1981 while the second was through the years 1983 to 1984. This Koshino House possess all fragments of the Japanese architect’s architectonic vocabulary, light being the main purpose. This work was a masterpiece. Tadao Ando stressed the importance of the light and the wind with regards to the completeness of the building.
But as he is notoriously famous internationally, Tadao Ando’s most noteworthy masterpieces are his religious buildings. He has designed several different structures of religion and contemplation, most of them Christian chapels. One notable building is the Church of the Light located in Baraki, Osaka which was completed in 1989. It is placed in a suburb that is residential, just 40 kilometers to north-east of the center of Osaka. Consisting from a concrete box that is rectangular in shape, crossed at 15 degrees angle by a wall that is freestanding. Tadao Ando gives importance to the entering of a building and how a person could experience the architecture and be aware of its concept or message. As he is popular, this building also has an emphasis on light and space.
What makes Tadao Ando inspiring is his numerous prestigious awards. These awards has made him one of the world’s most highly respected architects. His works, ideas and awards has formed him to be an influential entity in the architecture world for students. His awards include the Carlsberg Prize in 1992, the Praemium Imperiale in 1996, the Gold Medal of Royal Institue of British Architects in 1997, and most especially the 1995 Pritzker Prize, the highest award in architecture.
Adding to these reputable honors, Tadao Ando, despite having no degree in architecture, has become a visiting professor or instructor in institutions in the United States such as Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. He has also provided different lectures at other schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, University of California at Berkely, Rice, and also at prominent colleges in France, England and other different countries.
All in all, Tadao Ando has become one of the most influential architects of modern times. His inspiring works and awesome ideas about design has marked him as one of the greatests in history. His style and conceptualizations about the utilization of light and space has created a following that garnered him as a very influential person in the field of Architecture. His masterpieces about religious structures presented a new approach towards the old typical religious building looks. His use of materials and the combination of light and airiness with regards to forms differentiates him from the rest of the pack.
Tadao Ando is simply remarkable. Despite a lack of background in architecture by not having an architectural degree, he still managed to become one of the most successful and notable architects of his time. His work ethic and respect for the other superior architects who preceded him has made Tadao Ando an architect worth respecting and following.
“Ando, Tadao.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2007.
Davey, Peter. “Ando in Toto”. The Architectural Review October 1999: 60.
Muschamp, Herbert. “Among the Fountains with Tadao Ando; Concrete Dreams In the Sun King’s Court”. New York Times. 21 September 1995.
“Prizker Prize.” The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2007.